Abraham accompanied God and His two travelling companions *part of the way to Sodom* to ensure they didn’t get lost. While walking, God wondered whether to tell Abraham of what He intended for the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because the men living in them were too wicked.
The thing was, God intended Abraham to be the father of a great and powerful nation, and that all nations would pray to be blessed as Abraham’s nation would be blessed. However, Sodom and Gomorrah were flies in the ointment so to speak, being cities filled with men so incorrigibly wicked that they wouldn’t pray to be blessed.
God said to Abraham, “I’ve heard things about Sodom and Gomorrah which are so bad that I must go there to ascertain whether it’s as bad there as I’ve been led to believe. I simply have to know the truth.”
Abraham had detected in the timbre of God’s voice, something that left him in no doubt that God had already made up His mind to do away with Sodom and Gomorrah and all their peoples, regardless of any mitigating factors. Abraham felt uneasy about this, so he said to God, “Sire, you will know as well as I, that a basket of rotten figs will always contain some good figs.”
“What’s the point you’re trying to make” said God.
“Well Sire, just as a basket of rotten figs will contain some good figs, so will a city of bad men contain some good men.”
“Are you implying that there are some good men in Sodom and Gomorrah, despite men there being generally bad?”
“What do you wish me to do about it?”
“Let me put it this way Sire. What if You find that, for instance, in Sodom there are fifty good men? If You destroy Sodom You’ll destroy those fifty good men along with all the countless bad men there. Is it just that good men are destroyed along with bad men? Wouldn’t it be more just to save Sodom on account of these fifty good men?”
“You have a point, Abraham” said God. “Here’s what I’ll do. If I find there are fifty good men in Sodom, I’ll spare the whole city for their sake.”
“May I be so presumptuous, Sire, as to say something further, even allowing that in the eternal scheme of things I’m as dust and ashes?”
“What is it?”
“I wish not to be argumentative Sire. But…..what if You find that there are only forty-five good men in Sodom – five less than the fifty we talked of? Will You destroy Sodom because there are five more bad men than You had thought?”
“Alright” said God. “If I find there are forty-five good men I’ll not destroy the city”.
“But Sire, what if there are only forty good men?”
“Alright alright. If there are forty good men I’ll spare the city.”
“Please don’t be angry Sire, but what if there are thirty good men?”
“Just for you Abraham, if there are thirty good men I won’t destroy the city.”
“May I presume to speak further, Sire?”
“You’re pushing the inside of the papyrus, Abraham”, said God.
“Sire, what if there are twenty good men?”
“If so, I’ll not destroy the city. Are you satisfied now?”
The way God said this, and the now visibly throbbing pulse at the side of God’s neck, and the veins standing out, made Abraham tremble. But, such was his courage that he said, “I can see, Sire, that you are becoming angry. Were I You, I would be angry too. If I could speak just once more?”
God stopped walking and turned to Abraham, who felt God’s narrowed black eyes boring into him with a malevolence of which only God was capable. Abraham felt numb and disembodied. He heard a quavering voice saying, “Suppose, Sire, there are ten good men?”
God took a deep and slow breath, and said, “For the sake of ten good men, I will not destroy the city.” Whereupon He resumed His journey towards Sodom.
Abraham watched God and His two companions recede into the distance. When he could see them no more he returned to Mamre and his tent among the terebinth trees.
Source: Genesis 18, 16-33